Ponder this:

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A post . . . just to keep my hand in

It is 4:40am. The snow is flurrying with exactly the same everywhere-but-straight-down motion as in the "clever piece of technology" in the last post. Max is up with me, has been outdoors, is now considering eating his carefully prepared breakfast kibble. And now, he has tasted a few nuggets and declines the rest. His Enacard, hidden inside the dab of butter, got into him; I don't care if he eats more than that.

For a few weeks I have been considering that Max's time with us might be limited to the easily foreseeable future. His kidneys grow more dysfunctional and the symptoms grow more intrusive. If I had not had the mother I had, I might have disposed of Max long ago. I did have that mother, though, with whom I had no choice but to contend, and that bent the twig of my young self in the direction my mature self has grown. That is to say that many many times I fantasized about dealing death to my mother and being free of the tension and emotional pain she caused me, but I didn't do it, and I probably won't put Max down either until he's much sicker than he is. So far as he knows, life is good. He gets lifted up, lifted down, carried outdoors. Only once have I seen him staring into a corner for a few minutes, but he was calm and not frantic or lost. He found his way out. He's doing about as well as lots of old people who walk around taped into their Depends. 
My psychiatrist says, "But there's something wrong with Max."
My friend says, between the lines, "You are a craven wretch who cannot bear to be an adult and take adult decisions about your pets and your personal way of life, and it will take a crisis for you to do what any normal clean-living person would have done months ago."
And Husband says, "He's happy. Outdoors, he runs around interested in things, enjoying himself," and then, "It's too sad. I can't think about it."
When the day comes, it will be Mom who does the deed.
We have an appointment for an examination and blood tests on . . . Christmas eve at 9AM.

I'm pretty sure I have an appointment for a haircut this morning but I can't find my appointment card. My recollection is that I am to present myself at 10:30am, an awkward time in my Saturday routine. I should be at the supermarket at 10:30, but I don't like to hurry through my early Saturday lazy coffee-drinking time to get to the salon at 9:00am and I don't like to crowd my late morning with appointments. I don't know how much, on a given day, I'll enjoy strolling around the grocery store, examining packages, dreaming up recipes. So I always choose 10:00 or 10:30 for the hair. And I always have this discussion with myself. I think I might have left the card in the console in the car. That's handy, with me here in my nightgown and the car out there in the cold outdoors.

There are things that people say about me, to me, with which I cannot argue but that I do not like.
When someone says, "Poor little Max..." and I say, "What about poor little Mommy?" and the first speaker says, "First, Mommy isn't so little..." I can't honestly take issue with that since it is absolutely true. Compared to almost anyone I know I am . . . the larger of the two. But I think it's a little mean-spirited to say so.
Someone says, "You have a unique relationship with your pets," and I know she means I treat them as if they are humans and not as four-legged servants to my pleasure. It stopped my complaining, and Stopping Complaining is a worthwhile end.
Someone said about one of my last winter's posts that it was clear that I was not a "happy bunny" in the wintertime. No question about that. I determined, after that comment, that I would not post anything that wasn't upbeat, uplifting, smile-worthy. The determination lasted for perhaps two weeks; au fond I am not a Happy Bunny sort of person. The only time of year that I am reliably a happy bunny is early summer, and that only if I am free from the office for several days on end.

Christmas Day rushes hither. I have piles of Christmas gifts in a sack upstairs. Perhaps this weekend I will wrap and mail some. Perhaps I will do that next week or even next month. Husband and I shall have a quiet day with our faces sunk into prime rib (although he tells me it's almost impossible to get prime now and likely it will be choice rib), no revelry, no guests. 
A day of peace. What better?

It has taken about an hour to write this. I'm going back to bed with a bagel and my book. If there's one thing that brings me closer to happy bunnydom than waking up on a Saturday morning, it's having a bonus wakeup on a single Saturday morning!


threecollie said...

Happy bunny and real life are rarely compatible. I love what you write, because real is a lot better than just frosting over living. I too struggle...and fail often..I know, with trying to keep a cheerful face, especially in winter. About Max, I feel for you, truly I do. He is in a wonderful caring place with you, and you will know. Our vet told our daughter she would know about Tyler, and although it hurt her terribly she did. Take care of you....

esbboston said...

I live with a dogs-are-people core philosophy. I think you get so much more out of a dog when you treat them as kind and nice and talk to them all the time. But I have the time to devote to this animal and my wife and in return they both bless me immensely, and my wife has an enjoyable time with Cooper as well. We have our routines and joys and problems, and we all three help each other. My previous dog lasted 14 years and went peacefully in her sleep in her own timing. So I figure I am roughly through about half of Cooper's time with us, and I remember the grand design that dogs do cycle through much quicker than us.

DJan said...

I agree with threecollie, your posts are very real and reflect my own struggles too. So sorry about the difficulties with Max, but you know you are not alone in putting off the inevitable. Every day with him is one more with your devoted friend.

The only reason I don't share my life with a cat right now is that our apartment complex doesn't allow it. And there is the added benefit that I won't worry about my furry friend all the time.

Rubye Jack said...

I'm not a happy bunny sort either and really don't relate well to those who are happy, happy, happy and are forever cooking and cleaning, and who knows where they get all that crazy energy anyways.

You know, if Max is content, then why shouldn't he be able to carry on? Really!

Elizabeth Grimes said...

I'm so sorry about Max. Those situations are difficult and painful. Who can say for sure what the right thing to do is? You seem to love Max a great deal and I'm sure he's content knowing that. I hope you have a good Saturday.:)

Olga said...

As long as max stays comfortable and loved, why shouldn't he feel that life is good.
When I ask for a "late morning" appointment to get my hair cut, the girl at the desk always asks, "How about 9?" That is not late morning in my world.

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

yes , smitonius is having the same struggle , at the moment , over her dearly loved cat .
you'll know when the decision has to be made and it will just be the right thing to do . meanwhile , you can enjoy each other's company a little longer .

i'm so glad you're not a mega-happy bunny , by the way .... too exhausting and slightly spooky .

Lorac said...

I went through the kidney failure with my cat and he lasted a few years that way with a reasonable quality of life. He was happy and cared for and well fed. He wasn't in pain. One weekend he let us know he had enough and went quickly into decline. Everyone is right. You will know. In the meantime let him enjoy his old age.
As for your writing...Kudos for telling it like it is.

Linda Myers said...

We had a geriatric potbellied pig. He belonged to my husband. Two years ago I suggested the pig be put down because his arthritis was so bad he could barely walk. My husband didn't say anything.

I rarely saw the pig because it was hard for me to look at him. But my sister said, "You know, he's probably fine. Every morning and every evening he still gets to eat, which is his favorite thing." So I remained silent at home.

In the wee hours of Thanksgiving morning the pig passed away. When my husband when to feed him, the pig looked like he was asleep with a smile on his face.

When it was his time, it was his time.

Carolynn Anctil said...

I'm right there with you on the Max issue. My cat, Celine, is "going through something" that is, as yet undetermined, but has her howling in the wee hours of the morning again. It lasts for about 3 hours, just long enough for us to throw in the towel as far as getting any sleep is concerned, and then she curls up and snores the rest of the day away. I sat on the couch this morning in my fluffy slippers, watching her through my bleary eyes and thought, "These animals have no idea that we can kill them, at any time, with just a nod of our head."

It was just sleep deprivation talking. At least I think that was the voice in my head...

I'm more inclined to put up with her torturous behaviour and try to figure out what's causing it. The Frenchman, bless his heart, knows this.

I will say this though - I did ask an animal companion to stay longer than I should have because I couldn't bear to say the final farewell. I still carry guilt about that. Good luck on the 24th. I'll be thinking of you and Max.

rachel said...

My heart goes out to you. It's so hard, deciding when a beloved animal has to die - especially if it's an animal that seems to have no idea that it's sick. I have a tendency to let my cats go on a little too long, and am frank with the vet about this, because sometimes I need help in recognising that it's time to say goodbye. (This depends on having a vet without a gung-ho attitude to euthanasia, of course.)

Don't think about being a happy bunny, will you; happy bunny blogs are almost always repellent.

Friko said...

Yes, every time. All of it. Max and letting him live, the Saturday mornings, the ramblings, the un-happy bunnydom in winter, the rather larger than absolutely-necessary-embonpoint, the could-care-less about Christmas attitude, if only others would let me, all of it.
Are you my twin, woman?

Lord Wellbourne said...

I hear you. Clearly and deeply.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

It's so hard when a beloved animal companion is sick and aging -- to know when quality of life has eroded to the point that euthanasia makes sense - if, indeed, it ever does. I hope Max will either let you know it's time by ceasing to eat and drink or by dying gently on his own. I really feel for you -- and it can be particularly hard if you and your husband disagree on the issue.

We've faced that painful decision with three of our cats and the deciding factor in each case was that they were in pain, had no hope of recovery and couldn't function at all. With our first cat, who lived to be 17 with cancer and kidney failure, we spent 8 months -- at the urging of our vet -- giving him a saline IV every day to keep him hydrated. He accepted this well and had a very good quality of life as a result until the cancer got the better of him. In hindsight, we were glad to help him have some extra good quality time. With the other two -- who were young cats who had melamine poisoning and leukemia respectively -- the course of illness and death was brief and terrible. Even though there was no question about the necessity of ending their agonies, we still feel the loss of these beloved pets keenly.

My heart goes out to you and your husband.

Morning Bray Farm said...

Just wanted you to know I'm thinking about you. Max will let you know when it's time. Listen to him. xo

schmidleysscribblins,wordpress.com said...

I feel your pain. Our almost 19 year old dog is in a similar state of decline, although healthier than your Max I think. She is carried up and down stairs and last week I almost broke myself carrying her down the back stairs. I fell and she fell next to me but was okay (I broke her fall). Then, I apologized to her. Dianne

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